POK IS KASHMIR’S CURSE

SHOT: A doctor and his wife from Rajasthan who were working in Kashmir were shot in their own car by terrorists in Kashmir.

Pakistan-occupied areas of Kashmir (POK) are the biggest threat to peace and stability in Jammu & Kashmir. The bulk of the terrorist attacks originate in POK which is controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence wing of Pakistan.

By Adv. Vinayak D. Porob

People often make a mistake while calling Azaad Kashmir as entire Pakistan occupied Kashmir or P.O.K. when in fact P.O.K is not only Azaad Kashmir but it includes northern areas which is separate from Azaad Kashmir. P.O.K. is the total area under Pakistani occupation which is divided into two parts of one which is Azaad Jammu and Kashmir comprising of Merpur District of Jammu, bulk of the old jaghir of Poonch and a portion of Northern Western Kashmir Province. The other part i.e the northern areas which constitutes more than 85% of P.O.K and which includes five districts of Gilgit, Skardu, Diamir, Ghaizer and Ghanche. The area termed as northern areas under Pakistan occupation has been in dire straits and the people therein are victimised by the Pakistani’s in order to exploit the rich resources available in the said northern areas.
In notional terms Azaad Jammu and Kashmir has the status of an autonomous state having interim constitution which provides for a parliamentary form of government, with the President as the constitutional head, Prime Minister as the chief executive and a 48-member legislative assembly, a judiciary with a Supreme Court and a High Court, an election commission, its own national anthem and flag. Nevertheless for all practical purposes Azaad Jammu and Kashmir is governed by Pakistan through its ministry of Kashmir affairs and northern areas and the Azaad Jammu and Kashmir council. Gilgit-Baltistan which is known as northern areas has immense strategic significance and as such has been deliberately kept separate from Azaad Jammu and Kashmir and is controlled directly by Pakistan. The Pakistan Occupied Kashmir area is the part of the area of Jammu and Kashmir which was the kingdom of the erstwhile Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh which during Jammu and Kashmir accession to India was illegally occupied by the Pakistani’s in connivance with some of the ethnic people residing in the said area and at present more so after kargil war Pakistan has used this territory effectively against Indian interest by building of elaborate roads, dams, airstrips and high altitude training centres .In order to take seize over the Pakistan occupied area Pakistan inw connivance with the local tribals planed a tribal raid and executed it through serving officers in the Pakistani army with the sole intent to capture entire Jammu and Kashmir as the Maharaja of Dogra Dynasty at that time Mr. Hari Singh favoured accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. By December 1946 it was evident that India was about to become independent of the British and that in view of the two-nation theory, India was supposed to be divided into two countries, one-Muslim country by the name Pakistan and the other aspired to be secular i.e. India. Jammu and Kashmir’s Maharaja Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Ramchandra Kak toyed with the idea of independence and initially were neither in favour of accession to India nor Pakistan. As a result as of August 14 and 15 of 1947 when Pakistan and India became independent, Jammu and Kashmir was one of the only three princely states that had neither joined India nor Pakistan. Pakistan grew impatient with the impasse in Jammu and Kashmir and it assumed that Jammu and Kashmir belonged to them because of the state’s Muslim majority. The Pakistani army drew up a (three)3-fold plan to annex the state of Jammu and Kashmir firstly by sending armed soldiers to sneak into the Jammu province, secondly as the undivided Poonch had military history Pakistan persuaded deserters from the Maharaja’s forces and some veterans from the British army to organise a force and thirdly send thousands of Afridi tribesman into the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kushdil Khan of Mardan Northwest frontier province of Pakistan collected the Lashkar tribesmen and the Pakistan army put them in trucks and took them on the Kashmir border on the Pakistan side. The tribals drove the Maharaja’s forces out and some of the troops who were part of the Maharaja’s army deserted and joined the rebels and the Maharaja’s army units were besieged at Bhimber, Mirpur and Mangla. A band of 2000 tribesmen captured the bridge spanning the Neelam river on the Hazara trunk road linking Muzaffarabad as guard platoon of the 4th Jammu and Kashmir infantry joined the tribesmen. After Pakistan occupied Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Neelam valley and parts of Poonch/Rajauri, it officially established the government of so called Azaad Jammu and Kashmir on October 4, 1947.
Gilgit-Baltistan known as northern areas touches China and Afghanistan and overlooks the country of Russia. In 1877 the British set up Gilgit Agency and appointed an agent who acted as the ruler of this territory , however in 1935 the British rulers took Gilgit-Baltistan on a 60 years lease from Maharaja Hari Singh which was returned back to him in 1947 when the British Paramountcy came to an end. However the Gilgit scouts provoked a revolt against the return of the territory back to Maharaja Hari Singh and set up people’s republic of Baltistan and Gilgit on November 1st 1947 however this republic existed only for about 2( two) weeks and on April 28th 1949, conference leaders Mohammed Ibrahim and Ghulam Abbas signed an agreement with the Pakistan minister surrendering the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan to the Government of Pakistan. After taking over the administration of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Pakistani government through Frontier Crimes Regulations (F.C.R.) treated the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as brute criminals. Pakistan also restored the British ban on political activities in Gilgit-Baltistan and started administrating it under an agent from North West frontier province armed with the revived F.C.R. with a special care to ensure that no interaction took place between the people of Gilgit-Baltistan which is known as Northern Areas and Azaad Kashmir. Pakistan has treated itself as the lawful owner of the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan without giving it rights and identity. Pakistan extends its taxes to it, fly’s its own flag on official buildings, makes school children sing its national anthem and consider its heroes as their own but the people living there are exploited and are helpless with no legal rights. The so-called Northern Areas Legislative Council is a big hoax as it has no speaker, no leader of opposition and above all it has no powers to legislate. Whenever the people of Gilgit-Baltistan demanded civil and constitutional rights, the answer was bloody sectarian riots and leaders protesting against the atrocities were arrested and incarcerated. Pakistan is neither merging Northern Frontiers with Azaad Jammu and Kashmir nor is bestowing the people of northern areas with the benefits of Fundamental Rights, Civil Liberties and the right of their representation in the government and other national institutions and as such a boy from Gilgit-Baltistan are forced by Pakistan’s intelligence agency the I.S.I to fight in Kashmir. Azaad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have been to the dissatisfaction regarding their political rights and economic wellbeing is kept separate so as to prevent a consolidated movement to emerge which could challenge the Pakistani state control over the P.O.K. Gilgit-Baltistan have been made political scapegoat for the ultimate solution of the Kashmir issue however Pakistan is reluctant to extent them a formal Pakistani citizenship because it fears that accepting people from Gilgit and Baltistan as Pakistani citizens would lead to the formalisation of L.O.C. as an international border. Pakistan has tried to politically titivate the so called Azaad Jammu and Kashmir differently from the Northern areas which inevitably confines the territorial limits of the conflict only to Azaad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakistani government tries to create an illusion of independence to camouflage the nature of its political status by giving trappings of independence to various political denominations that are in place in Azaad Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has been successfully able to divert the attention of the world to the Indian part of Kashmir and as the media focuses only on the happenings of Indian part of Kashmir without any news on the political developments in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (P.O.K.) resulting an impression that everything is fine with Azaad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The extent of independence of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (P.O.K.) can be gauged from the fact that Pakistan ceded part of the territory of Kashmir to China without consulting the Kashmiris. Pakistan is reluctant to hand over the Gilgit-Baltistan to Azaad Jammu and Kashmir as the strategic Karakorum highway is passing through this area.
Pakistan’s double standards on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be overlooked by the world community and since Pakistan is an illegal occupier of the P.O.K, the Kashmir issue can be resolved only if the Pakistani troops withdraw from P.O.K. as the fate of Kashmir cannot be decided by the Pakistani’s who are presently governing the P.O.K by coercion.

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